How to Write a Research Paper
Most students groan at the thought of writing a research paper, but with proper preparation, writing a research paper can actually be relatively simple. By planning out the steps beforehand and getting a clear picture of what the paper will look like when it’s finished, students and professionals alike can save time and finish the project without too much of a headache. Following these steps should make writing a research paper a little bit easier and more enjoyable.
1. Choose a topic
Before you can begin writing a research paper, you must choose what to write about, or your teacher or boss will give you a topic to write about. Make sure the topic you choose, or are given, is something you can write about with ease. Ideally, it should be a topic that you have had prior experience with that you enjoy learning and writing about. Also, decide on the tone of the paper. Will it be informative, analytical, or persuasive? Your teacher or boss can help you determine what the style should be.
2. Gather your sources
A big part of writing a research paper is finding relevant sources. Usually, students utilize the library for sources, as they have access to online databases, books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, magazines, newspapers, and much more. You can also look online at news articles, journals, blog entries, scholarly articles, websites, and more. Always make sure your sources come from professionals or experts on a topic that can provide valid information to help support your topic. Depending on the instructions from your teacher, you may need to find three to five different resources for your research paper.
3. Make an outline
Now that you have your resources, you need to outline your paper and figure out the order, placement, tone, and content of your paper. Highlight and take notes on the information you gather from your sources so you can decide what key points to cover in your paper. You can use post-its or just write on pieces of paper and stick them in the books or on printed out pages so you have some idea of what to say in your paper. Organize your notes by category or in chronological order so you can refer to them easily when writing your research paper. A good thing to do at this time would be to also create a rough draft of a bibliography or sources page so you can just type it up after writing your paper.
4. Write your paper
Consult your outline for help, and refer to your sources frequently when writing your paper. In the introduction, be sure to include the thesis statement, which is essentially the objective of the paper, and create an attention-grabber in the beginning to draw the readers into your topic. Then, write the three body paragraphs, making sure to stay on topic with your outline and include all relevant details and descriptions about each body paragraph. Also, keep your body paragraphs at around 8-11 sentences so your readers do not lose interest. Consult your sources when writing these paragraphs so you can prove points or provide valuable information. Then, in the conclusion, summarize the three body paragraphs and remind readers what your paper was about. Make sure you have either provided information, proved a point, or solved a problem for readers.